I was interested in this book for a couple reasons. I recently read George Friedman's "America's Secret War" (which I loved) and wanted to see what Bergen thought about the way the Iraq war was sold to the American people. I also wanted to learn more about David Patraeus, the Anbar Awakening, and "the Surge". In general I found Bergen's account of the build-up to the Iraq war naive and missing the strategic and geopolitical reasons for the war that Friedman discusses. It was clearly bias and falls into the trap of believing that Bush is a fool, a trap that I fell into many times during his administration. I do give Bergen credit for his account of "the surge". He gives full credit to Bush for his willingness to keep in the fight and allowing Patraeus to pull victory from the jaws of defeat. And yes, it was victory that I never thought would be possible. More importantly, it demonstrated to the world that American resolve should not be underestimated. Obama gets it now and I bet that he has much more respect for Bush than he did before moving into the White House. Obama might even be a little embarrassed about some of his naive foreign policy remarks during the campaign.
Final thoughts: Bergen is a journalist with an above average understanding of the big picture when compared to his peers. But as we all know, that isn't much of compliment. The first half of the book betrays his agenda and his inability to grasp the strategic picture. The second half of the book saved it for me, especially the account of the surge. It gave me a new respect for Patraeus and his place in history.
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